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Why do we need a new legal framework?
Today, many Swiss enterprises have already started their journey towards sustainability. However, without a clear legal framework, their efforts often go unrecognized and unsupported. Also for consumers it is often not clear which companies really put sustainability at the heart of their strategy. This lack of transparency and recognition fails to incentivize other companies to become more sustainable, resulting in a slow progress towards environmental and social sustainability in Switzerland.
A new legal status of Sustainable Enterprise, optional but not mandatory, is the strong signal awaited by citizens, employees, consumers, and investors. Our institutions must adapt with determination so that the private sector can accelerate its transition towards a sustainable economy."
Founder & CEO, B Lab Switzerland Foundation
Spokesperson, Alliance for Sustainable Entreprises
An impulse for entrepreneurs
The introduction of our new legal framework serves as a powerful response to entrepreneurs yearning for a structured guide to sustainability. It provides a clear roadmap to sustainability practices, thereby simplifying the pathway to achieve transparent sustainability. This initiative is poised to empower entrepreneurs to integrate sustainability seamlessly into their business models.
A safeguard for consumers
Consumers will be protected against 'green- and impactwashing' under this new framework. It ensures that companies making environmental and social claims will have to live up to them. By mitigating the risk of false or overstated claims, we are championing a more honest, transparent marketplace that truly values sustainability.
A milestone for regulators
With the creation of standardized data under this legal framework, regulators will gain a useful tool to perform targeted policy actions. This will inevitably lead to a higher efficiency in regulation and oversight, and strengthen the potency of the government.
A catalyst for the economy
This new legal framework will help to foster a business model that excels not just economically, but also socially and environmentally. It aims to integrate these three dimensions in a harmonious balance, promoting a resilient, robust economy that is prepared for future challenges.
A game-changer for finance
By introducing a clear, structured approach to sustainability, Switzerland is setting the stage to attract more businesses and investors keen on sustainable finance. In this way, we strengthen the Swiss financial marketplace.
A brighter future for Switzerland
The proposed legal framework offers Switzerland an unparalleled opportunity to accelerate its progress towards the targets set in Agenda 2030. It positions Switzerland at the forefront of sustainable practices and paves the way for a future where economic growth and sustainability go hand in hand.
What does your Manifesto call for?The Manifesto calls for a creation of a ‘Sustainable Enterprise’ status in Swiss legislation. This qualification would be open - but not mandatory - to any for-profit entity that is willing to commit to be assessed and to report on a comprehensive set of targets that are consistent with Environmental, Social and Governance indicators.
Who wrote the Manifesto?The Manifesto was written by the Alliance for Sustainable Enterprises Team in consultation with experts and stakeholders from various fields and industries.
How do you define ‘sustainable enterprises’?We define a “Sustainable Enterprise” as a forward-thinking business that integrates environmental, social, and governance criteria as well as stakeholder expectations in its mission, business model, and operations. It evaluates stakeholder impact, maintains ethical and anti-corruption standards, respects human rights, has strategies for greenhouse gas emission reduction and environmental impact, ensures transparent lobbying aligned with its purpose, provides equitable working conditions, fosters broad diversity, and actively contributes to community well-being. Sustainable enterprises aspire to create viable business solutions and act as change agents who realize and exploit opportunities for sustainable development.
Who should sign the Manifesto?The Manifesto is open to all actors of Swiss society that support progress on sustainable development. That includes, but is not limited to, companies, social enterprises, associations, experts, academicians, and citizens.
Why do we need more regulation? Aren’t Swiss companies already doing enough on sustainability?Switzerland’s material footprint is growing, which is contrary to sustainable development. The consumption of natural resources necessary for the production and transport of goods and services consumed in Switzerland is increasing, in particular the share linked to imports leading to an increasing environmental burden abroad. Our proposal complements existing ongoing efforts by creating a mechanism that incentivizes and accelerates the contribution of the private sector to Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.
What additional burden on companies will this new framework entail?We propose the establishment of an option to qualify as a "Sustainable Enterprise" for all profit-making companies. Our proposal does not impose new obligations on businesses that do not wish to obtain this status, but encourages those who do wish to prepare for future obligations imposed by the EU and internationally.
Is this proposal for large companies only?Our proposal is addressed to any profit-making entity in Switzerland, of any size and sector. We believe that every business should have the opportunity to embrace sustainability.
Can social enterprises qualify for ‘sustainable enterprise’ status?The 'Sustainable Enterprise' status is designed to be universally applicable across the entire spectrum of for-profit legal entities. This includes traditional corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises, startups, and social enterprises such as cooperatives. The key factor is not the type of entity, but rather its commitment to integrating sustainability principles into its business operations. This means that any for-profit enterprise, irrespective of its business model, can qualify for 'sustainable enterprise' status if it meets the designated criteria of blending social responsibility and environmental stewardship with profitable business practice.
Are you proposing to create a ‘benefit company’ model in Switzerland?Our proposal builds on European and international best practices, including benefit company legislative frameworks. However it differs from it in different ways. The principal difference is that our approach requires Sustainable Enterprises to maintain rigorous standards of auditing and reporting on a comprehensive set of social, environmental and governance indicators that are aligned with UN, OECD, and existing and emerging European Union standards and regulations. This alignment seeks to achieve a globally recognized and respected standard of sustainability in enterprise.
What would be the advantages of this regulatory framework for Switzerland?Our proposal would offer several advantages, including: - meeting the needs of entrepreneurs who are asking for a “ready-made” model to guide their transition to sustainability - protecting consumers against “greenwashing” - assisting regulators in identifying companies that are serious about their social and environmental commitments - improving business performance of companies that qualify as “Sustainable Enterprises” but also of those that undertake the process to prepare for future qualification or simply use the Sustainable Enterprise framework to guide their business operations - accelerating Switzerland’s progress towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda goals. - strengthening Switzerland's position as an ideal sustainable finance location.
Six benefits of
the proposed legal framework:
Member of the Executive Board of Alternative Bank Switzerland
For us, it would be very important to have a model for change and economic transformation. With the help of a legislative framework, we can be much stronger and can go much further.
Entrepreneur at tipee and Gammadia
A clear legal framework would make it easier to identify companies committed to sustainability. And thus stimulate others to join the movement.
President of the Board of Trustees of Fairtrade Max Havelaar and former National Councillor
I fully support this legal framework. Regulation and accountability are now the standard we must uphold for responsible businesses within value chains.
What business leaders think
Who is the Alliance?
At the heart of the sustainability movement is the Alliance for Sustainable Enterprises, a dynamic coalition of forward-thinking companies and organizations that truly understand the business sector's pivotal role in addressing today's most pressing societal issues. We firmly believe in and advocate for policies and standards that foster and incentivize virtuous business practices, creating a ripple effect of benefits for society at large. Encompassing over 500 active businesses and organisations in Switzerland, including business umbrella organizations like Swiss Leaders, Fédération Suisse des Entreprises, öbu Switzerland, Economy for the Common Good Switzerland and Blab Switzerland, our Alliance serves as a testament to the power of collective action. But our alliance is more than just a coalition - it is a platform for open dialogue and collaboration.